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#1 2012-01-30 05:02:45

kkb110
Member
Registered: 2010-09-13
Posts: 14

Again, stable archlinux snapshots

I would like to bring up the old topic again, "stable archlinux snapshots"
It's just my opinion and I don't think it should be official from the beginning.

Problem statement:
server is one of the main usage of linux, however, serious servers often require stable API/ABI for years, (five to ten years I would say) in this case, rolling release is not appropriate.

History:
https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Arch_Linux_Stable
https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=41764
http://www.archserver.org/

Analysis of www.archserver.org 's failure:
It required too much manpower and simply we didn't have it.

Suggestion:
1. Back to the basic and simple, let's just provide one more optional stable repository : https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Arch_Linux_Stable
2. Ok I know, we still lack manpower. However, there are only few key packages (e.g. kernel, gcc, glibc, apache, mysql, etc...) which really need to be stable for server. Let's forget about not-so-important-packages for server, like firefox, gnome..
3. Again, we still lack manpower, but since there are already outstanding groups doing this, RHEL and Ubuntu LTS, why don't we take advantage of it? Let's follow their few core packages' security patchs/fixes, etc.. and clone it to our stable repo,(it's not a directly convert from .deb to pkgbuild) it will be probably less than 30 packages.

Scenario:
1. User installs normal archlinux as usual.
2. User adds the stable repository, called [stable-rhel6]
3. [stable-rhel6] has an archlinux version of RHEL6 up-to-date kernel and user can install it.
4. in case of we can't install both from [stable-rhel6] and the original repository like gcc, [stable-rhel6]'s gcc-rhel6 PKGBUILD has "provides=(gcc 4.x)"
5. when RHEL7 is released, create [stable-rhel7] and maintain both, so that people can either stick to [stable-rhel6], or migrate to [stable-rhel7]. RHEL's release cycle seems to be about every 2-year and each are supported for 7 years.

Pros:
So simple, we can even just start it now at AUR, before making an actual stable repository. For example,
"kernel26-natty-git 20110512-3" : "The Ubuntu Kernel and modules including Ubuntu Supplied Third-Party Device Drivers (NDISWRAPPER, RTL8192SE, ureadahead & more)"
is already there in AUR.

Cons:
1. possibly break the compatibility by not partially using the original packages. (But I don't worry too much about this,  few patches for kernel, gcc, etc... are really unlikely to break it)
2. stable packages' versions will lag behind the official repository's, which is fine, but might let other packages those depend on them unupgradable.


#EDITED1
made it clear that it's not direct package converting (response to tomk)

Last edited by kkb110 (2012-01-30 07:38:34)

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#2 2012-01-30 05:08:19

ngoonee
Forum Fellow
From: Between Thailand and Singapore
Registered: 2009-03-17
Posts: 6,772

Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

You mixed up pros and cons. And if you're going to be using external packages, why not just use those distros? Arch Linux's nature is rolling release, if your server needs 100% uptime then its not suitable. Trying to MAKE it suitable is fine, but you should start implementation first before anyone else can comment on whether its a good idea.

The main question - why use Arch Linux if you don't want rolling release AND want to use packages from other distributions? It's not trivial to convert those packages anyway.


Allan-Volunteer on the (topic being discussed) mailn lists. You never get the people who matters attention on the forums.
jasonwryan-Installing Arch is a measure of your literacy. Maintaining Arch is a measure of your diligence. Contributing to Arch is a measure of your competence.
Griemak-Bleeding edge, not bleeding flat. Edge denotes falls will occur from time to time. Bring your own parachute.

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#3 2012-01-30 07:09:11

tomk
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From: Ireland
Registered: 2004-07-21
Posts: 9,835

Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

How is it easier to convert other distro's packages, instead of building proper Arch packages?

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#4 2012-01-30 07:32:32

wonder
Developer
From: Bucharest, Romania
Registered: 2006-07-05
Posts: 5,937
Website

Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

you are missing a very important detail.

you said that what matters in a linux distro is glibc/gcc/kernel and the rest can be use from arch. that is where the details are important. Once packages are compiled against new glibc/gcc you won't be able to run them with older glibc. So you'll be able to maintain all packages in archserver.


Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.
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#5 2012-01-30 07:36:40

kkb110
Member
Registered: 2010-09-13
Posts: 14

Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

wonder wrote:

Once packages are compiled against new glibc/gcc you won't be able to run them with older glibc. So you'll be able to maintain all packages in archserver.

Oh no! you're right... D=
Question: so does archlinux build everything on every new glibc/gcc? If so.. meh to my plan.. if not, how frequently does it happen?

Last edited by kkb110 (2012-01-30 07:45:20)

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#6 2012-01-30 07:52:45

wonder
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From: Bucharest, Romania
Registered: 2006-07-05
Posts: 5,937
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Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

once new glibc hits core, all new packages updated are built against it.


Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.
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#7 2012-01-30 09:07:50

Allan
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From: Brisbane, AU
Registered: 2007-06-09
Posts: 10,329
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Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

As a semi-unbiased observer of ArchServer  (I did help out with setting up their toolchain but had not interest beyond that...), I think there was two main reasons that it failed:

1) lack of manpower
2) lack of focus

#2 really compounded #1.  Every new team member had something different that their server needed to do so additional things were added rather than finishing off the core of the distro.   If a genuine release had been made, even if it was really minimal in what it supported (e.g. LAMP and nothing more...), I think there would have been more people join the project.


I do like the idea of reducing the manpower requirements by following another distro (e.g. RHEL).   An "Arch EL6" would be interesting...   And converting a .spec file into a PKGBUILD is fairly simple.   The issue would be the requirement of Arch specific stuff - such as the initscripts, mkinitcpio - particularly if you want Arch like feel to the distro beyond using pacman to administer it (and you would or this would be pointless...).  That is where a lot of time will need to be spent.  Just taking the current Arch packages for those will not work as the require newer userspace tools that whatever distro you choose to base this on would have.  But again, stripping these down to the bare minimum just to get the initial release done and then backporting any needed changes from the main Arch codebase later could reduce this burden.

Anyway, I still think this is doable.  It just needs a fairly harsh task master, at least for the start, to really focus the development.

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#8 2012-01-30 15:38:13

yaffare
Member
Registered: 2011-12-29
Posts: 71

Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

IMO the only thing arch for server needs, is a mailing list for security updates.

I know this also would require quite some additional manpower and organization, but is maybe the easier approach.

( For people who would like to have a stable secure server, but rolling software to newest versions, I know 2 alternatives: FreeBSD or Debian Stable in Combination with Debian Sid, realized with apt-pinning)


systemd is like pacman. enjoys eating up stuff.

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#9 2012-01-30 15:52:08

satchmosgroove
Member
From: Long Beach, NY
Registered: 2010-01-13
Posts: 65

Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

Are there more lts packages from upstream to rely on? I mean other than kernel-lts, but maintained the same way.

i.E. MySQL : they maintain older versions and we have already AUR packages. Wouldn't that be basically voting them into extra?

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#10 2012-01-30 16:47:51

Awebb
Member
Registered: 2010-05-06
Posts: 4,126

Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

The difficulty with maintaining a stable server repository is, that packages need to get patched to close security holes and critical bugs, while conserving a total feature/API/ABI stability. You'd need not only packagers, but a fist full of programmers to do this.

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#11 2012-01-30 17:56:31

kkb110
Member
Registered: 2010-09-13
Posts: 14

Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

@Allan
Thank you for your helpful comment from semi-first hand experience. I think I need to study more to talk about the details.

@satchmosgroove
Nice point, thanks for reminding kernel-lts. I agree that bringing more lts-like upstream(or middle stream from other lts distro) to AUR can be a good starting point. We probably can maintain the list of lts packages recommend for server at https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Co … rver_Guide once it is stabilized.

Last edited by kkb110 (2012-01-30 18:27:58)

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#12 2012-02-01 16:57:25

satchmosgroove
Member
From: Long Beach, NY
Registered: 2010-01-13
Posts: 65

Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

I keep thinking about this, as I would be interested in keeping older versions sometimes as well.

Wouldn't it be more "KISSish" (and maybe more resource friendly) to create a "[lts]" repo instead of maintaining a separate arch server distro? We could put older and still maintained versions of pretty much anything in there: kernel, glib, mysql, php, postgres........ Maybe even the current maintainers would be able to maintain two, three versions of their packages, one in [core]/[extra] and one in [lts].

This would be nice for developers as well, if you have to test and comply to php5.2 or MySQL 5.1 and you still get updates through pacman -Syu. Issues like the glibc builds you would have to avoid by putting hard dependencies on older versions of glibc in [lts].

Please correct me, if I am talking total nonsense.

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#13 2012-02-01 20:46:37

kkb110
Member
Registered: 2010-09-13
Posts: 14

Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

satchmosgroove wrote:

Wouldn't it be more "KISSish" (and maybe more resource friendly) to create a "[lts]" repo instead of maintaining a separate arch server distro?

Yes, that's exactly what I suggested. To summarize additional things to consider,

1. Should we take packages from RHEL or ubuntu LTS(middle-stream)?
I think it makes sense. it's not only about additional patches, but also configuration, e.g. http://www.serverwatch.com/tutorials/ar … ations.htm

2. Do we need multiple parallel [lts] repositories? e.g. [RHEL5], [RHEL6],... or [lts2010], [lts2015],...
Probably. Because pacman -Syu shouldn't upgrade the lts packages. e.g. from kernel-lts 2.6 to kernel-lts 3.0
An alternative would be a single [lts] repository and adding version to the package name. e.g. kernel26-lts or kernel-rhel5 . Not sure which will be better, I think the latter approach is more arch-ish and elegant.

3. what are we gonna do with glibc?
Unless we keep/maintain all the packages stable, we need to use the latest glibc from [core] repository, no choice. Although I don't like it much, glibc's backward compatibility will be really reliable. If it is once broken, current archlinux will be screwed anyways.

ok. and how about making a stable package wish list? e.g. kernel, postgre, apache, python, etc... (excluding glibc) this should be the very first step, if we really do something.

p.s. If anyone, is interested in, please express in this thread, it will be greatly helpful to move forward. I'm still not sure we(as the entire community) have enough motivation to begin.

Last edited by kkb110 (2012-02-01 22:40:53)

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#14 2012-02-02 01:34:53

satchmosgroove
Member
From: Long Beach, NY
Registered: 2010-01-13
Posts: 65

Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

I think you want to go a few steps further than I.  :-)

For me there should be at most an additional  [lts] and [lts-testing] and there should be only lts from upstream, not patched by another distro (your "middle stream").

One reason I love arch is that patches by the distro are minimal. I appreciate that a lot. IMHO, once you add packages patched by RH/Ubuntu/whoever, you leave the "Arch Way". Someone said that in a similar thread: Maybe you then really want another distro? Which would be legitimate reason to turn elsewhere. Or you use the AUR ;-)

For me Arch is stable enough. What I am missing is kind of that Gentoo feature to switch between package versions (do they still have that?), just would be nice to ignore MySQL5.5 and stay on (still maintained) 5.1.

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#15 2012-02-02 02:04:31

kkb110
Member
Registered: 2010-09-13
Posts: 14

Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

I see... anyways, I don't think those two approaches are exclusive to each other, because what we really need is a general framework for "Providing stable packages". and actually I think we should start from your approach, since it's more natural to arch as you said. smile

But then, we already have all the facilities we need, the only thing is that they(e.g. python24) are in AUR and sometimes not maintained well. I guess what we need to do is systemizing it somehow so that they can be cleanly represented to users.

Last edited by kkb110 (2012-02-02 02:05:40)

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#16 2012-07-22 06:27:08

senorsmile
Member
Registered: 2010-12-12
Posts: 67

Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

This approach seems quite favorable to the archserver way.  It would integrate nicely with the existing Arch linux system, and would provide that extra needed stability for when you need a server install to just work, year after year.  I would like to see this get going, but I don't know if I'd be much help.

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#17 2012-07-23 17:46:13

scjet
Banned
Registered: 2011-07-23
Posts: 172

Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

isn't that why they have "LTS" kernel thingy right ? There's your Arch Server.
In either case, and btw: you should be using "CentOS" , and not RedFart., but anyway, they are not bleeding-edge-rolling distro's like Arch.
Arch as a server is a noble concept, worthy of future endevours, but in any extreme case. NO ! , but that "NO" also depends on production requirements,...
-stick to your CentOS, or similar units...
-jus my 2 cents.

Last edited by scjet (2012-07-23 17:55:09)


The "BSD" things in life are "Free", and "Open", and so is "Arch"

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#18 2012-07-23 23:23:15

fukawi2
Forum Moderator
From: .vic.au
Registered: 2007-09-28
Posts: 5,254
Website

Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

scjet wrote:

isn't that why they have "LTS" kernel thingy right ? There's your Arch Server.

Not quite... There are lots of non-seamless updates not related to the kernel. The recent /lib symlink change being a perfect example.

Being the one who started ArchServer, I agree with previous sentiments from Allan regarding our failures. Unfortunately I just did not (and do not) have the time or experience to coordinate it properly. Without the man power we struggled to get the basics done upon which we could lay the rest of the project.

I am still interested in the idea and willing to assist anyone who wants to try again; I did hand the project over to someone else who planned to continue it, but that has not come to fruition.

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#19 2012-08-09 07:46:50

senorsmile
Member
Registered: 2010-12-12
Posts: 67

Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

fukawi2 wrote:
scjet wrote:

isn't that why they have "LTS" kernel thingy right ? There's your Arch Server.

Not quite... There are lots of non-seamless updates not related to the kernel. The recent /lib symlink change being a perfect example.

Being the one who started ArchServer, I agree with previous sentiments from Allan regarding our failures. Unfortunately I just did not (and do not) have the time or experience to coordinate it properly. Without the man power we struggled to get the basics done upon which we could lay the rest of the project.

I am still interested in the idea and willing to assist anyone who wants to try again; I did hand the project over to someone else who planned to continue it, but that has not come to fruition.

I know that I do not have the experience, but I certainly have the time and the motivation to pass on the torch.  I believe that this a huge gap in the offering of Arch Linux, but no other distro offers the simplicity and beauty of Arch.

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#20 2012-08-09 08:06:28

ngoonee
Forum Fellow
From: Between Thailand and Singapore
Registered: 2009-03-17
Posts: 6,772

Re: Again, stable archlinux snapshots

You could simply contact fukawi2 directly by email to discuss it. All successful (and most unsuccessful, to be fair) Arch projects start with a few and gain traction/support because the need is seen. A good structure helps (no idea how far along ArchServer got with that).


Allan-Volunteer on the (topic being discussed) mailn lists. You never get the people who matters attention on the forums.
jasonwryan-Installing Arch is a measure of your literacy. Maintaining Arch is a measure of your diligence. Contributing to Arch is a measure of your competence.
Griemak-Bleeding edge, not bleeding flat. Edge denotes falls will occur from time to time. Bring your own parachute.

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